German national Pia Klemp, the former captain of both the Iuventa and the Sea Watch-3 migrant rescue vessels, faces up to twenty years in an Italian prison after being put on trial on charges of suspicion of “help and complicity in illegal immigration.”
Ms Klemp began her work on migrant rescue vessels six years ago as a deckhand but was able to rise up to the rank of captain by the time the Iuventa was seized by Italian authorities in 2017, French television broadcaster TV5Monde reports.
Italian Pro-Migrant Groups Facing 15,000 Job Losses After Salvini Cuts https://t.co/RD0x2taGPs
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Along with the confiscation of the vessel was the confiscation of mobile phones and computers belonging to Klemp and others but the Italian justice system did not decide to allow for the reading of the contents of the devices until May of 2018.
While the current populist coalition between Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s Lega the Five Star Movement (M5S) has been well-known for anti-mass migration policies, the initial investigation against Klemp was initiated by the prior government of Paolo Gentiloni in 2016.
According to Klemp’s lawyer, the Italian secret service along with four other agencies had been observing the actions of the pro-migrant activists and had even tapped their phones and other forms of communication.
Head of Migrant Transport NGO Under Investigation for People Trafficking https://t.co/ULkq8SXvV7
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The main charge for the prosecution is to prove whether or not Klemp directly worked with Libyan people smugglers. Previously in 2017, Italian authorities released several photographs claiming to show members of the Iuventa collaborating with people smugglers.
“The evidence is serious. We have evidence of encounters between smugglers who have accompanied illegal immigrants to the ‘Iuventa’, and members of the crew,” prosecutor Ambrogio Cartosio said after the release of the photographs.
Italian prosecutors have alleged a connection between people traffickers and migrant rescue NGOs for years and Klemp is not the only activist facing charges. Head of migrant transport NGO “Mediterranea Saving Humans” Luca Casarini is also currently under investigation by Italian authorities for aiding illegal migration after the vessel Mare Jonio entered Italian waters illegally earlier this year.